Features March 2015 Issue

Know When Medications Are Needed For Blood Pressure Control

Know When Medications Are Needed For Blood Pressure Control

Treatment decisions can be complicated for older adults and for people with mild hypertension, but a heart-healthy diet, exercise and weight control are always appropriate.

When it comes to using medications to help control hypertension, there are many more factors to consider than just the systolic (top) and diastolic (bottom) numbers on your blood pressure readings.

Steven Nissen, MD, chairman of the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at Cleveland Clinic, explains that for someone whose blood pressure is naturally around 110/70 mm Hg, for example, there is obviously no need for antihypertensive medications since that’s well within the healthy range. Likewise, a person with a systolic pressure of 160 mm Hg or higher is clearly in need of medical therapy.

“But the devil is in the details when you get into that 120 to 150 or so range,” Dr. Nissen says. “The greater the risk, the more aggressively we want to treat a person. But there’s a lot to consider.”

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